I did try and pass this week’s column off as “BEN STOKES, THAT IS ALL”.
Sadly, I am expected to write a little more for my money.
Test cricket’s alright, no?
Wow. Simply wow. England won the ‘greatest game of cricket EVER’ for the second time in just over a month.
Not only was it very decent of England and Australia to finish the 3rd Test on Sunday allowing us to review it properly, but it was also the greatest English Test match finish ever witnessed. Ever.
Don’t 2005 at Edgbaston me. This was utterly incredible.
Don’t forget, England got bowled out for 67 in the first innings. 67. Steve Smith, had he been playing, would have been fuming to get 67 on his own – let alone the entire team.
England went into Sunday needing another 200 odd to win the match against all odds with eight wickets remaining.
Joe Root batted for his job and was supported by Joe Denly, batting for his Test career. The stage was slowly being set, even when Root and Denly got themselves out.
At that point, the Ashes was gone. Totally gone.
Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow flirted with it making a canter once again, and then the wickets tumbled. England were being predictable – killing us with the damn hope yet again.
But, we’d all forgotten about Jack Leach, hadn’t we?
England were 286/9 and needing 77 to win when Jack Leach came out at number 11.
Jack Leach ended up with one not out – easily the finest one not out he will ever get in his career.
At the other end Ben Stokes, biffed, calculated, created, smashed, worked, ran and backed his partner to face one ball an over.
Yes, yes – Australia screwed themselves over with a daft review only to see Stokes given not out when plumb moments later.
Yes, yes – Nathan Lyon’s fumble failed a clear run out (which would have made it two too many after Jos Buttler’s failure earlier).
Even at that point, you couldn’t say England were home and dry.
When the scores were level, Leach getting his single, and Stokes was on strike you were allowed to believe.
Funnily enough, Stokes got Man of the Match. He scored two off his first 42 balls. And then 74 off his last 42. Oh, and he can bowl a bit.
What is it with Headlingly and famous Test comebacks? (Come on, twice in nearly 40 years counts).
Now, can we go on and win the Ashes?